New substrate and Fish (new tank)

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Ian h

AC Members
Original poster
Jan 14, 2019
So I will be getting a new tank soon and want to try sand substrate. I have no clue what "brand" to buy or what plants can live in it. I'm thinking of getting loaches and moving my Red eye Tetra's and my Cory's that I haven't sold yet to that tank. Any suggestions for plants and Deco for them?

the loach

AC Members
Aug 6, 2018
Don't get sand. It packs too much for plants, is horrible to clean and will develop anaerobic spots. Get fine gravel/very coarse sand 2mm to 3mm in diameter.
It does not have these problems and fine enough for small bottom dwellers to go through. They have it in different colors.


Eheim User
Feb 9, 2005
Medina, Ohio
Real Name
Pool filter sand is also an option though it's usually limited to off white or tan colors.


AC Members
Oct 17, 2010
I had play sand in a 75 gallon low-tech / medium-high light planted tank for many years, and didn't have any trouble - and the aquarium thrived. Had angelfish at the time, and they are finicky - would have noticed if the substrate was causing problems! I did sometimes "stir" or poke the sand with a chopstick to make sure no anaerobic bacteria built up though. I think in a heavy planted aquarium, the plant roots help alleviate any bacteria buildup. If you're wanting black sand, you could use sandblaster's sand too. Cheap at the home improvement store, and works great if you start off with some root tabs to establish the substrate.

As for plants, Amazon Swords, italian val, micro-sword, blyxa, sag grass, dwarf red lily, (I'm probably missing some) all grew great in the sand.
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AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
SF Bay area, CA
I've used pool sand (20 grade is standard) several times, I dislike the whitish color of most. It shows all debris & requires some practice to clean. It doesn't compact but doesn't have anything to help plants grow. You'll need to use fertilizers, except for plants like java fern & anubias that are attached to wood or rocks. Cryptocorynes are pretty easy too but will need a root tab near each planted clump.

Stem plants & ground covers are hard to keep down in sand, especially with diggers. Some are not difficult, many need higher lighting, column ferts & co2.